Davidson Fellows - Class of 2013

2013 Davidson Fellow Laureates

$50,000 Scholarship Recipients

  Hannah Larson
Eugene, OR
Category: Mathematics
Project Title: “Classification of Some Fusion Categories of Rank 4”
  Samantha Marquez
Midlothian, VA
Category: Science
Project Title: “Celloidosomes®: A New Paradigm in the Bottom-up Assembly of Multicellular Architectures”
Fusion categories are fundamental mathematical objects that appear in many areas of math, physics, and computer science. The classification of fusion categories is a difficult, open problem of current interest. Hannah Larson made progress toward solving this problem by studying the next unsolved case of smallest rank. More >   Samantha Marquez developed Celloidosomes®, a cell self-assembly process for bioengineering 3-dimensional tissues in a core-shell structure. Her research focused on demonstrating the vast versatility of the Celloidosome in both composition and applications: from liver repair and reconstruction to biological sensors and neural tissue transplantation, to the “green” biodefense tool for the sequestration of radioactive heavy metals such as Cesium-137. More >

2013 Davidson Fellows

$25,000 Scholarship Recipients

  Ankita Ghoshal
Austin, TX
Category: Science
Project Title: “Sustainable 100W Portable Generators for 24/7/365 Power Demand”
  Coleman Hughes
Montclair, NJ
Category: Music
Project Title: “The Rhythm of Free Expression: Honoring the Great Jazz Masters”
According to World Bank, there are 1.6 billion people in the world who have no access to national power grids. Ankita Ghoshal built a multi-mode 24/7 generator that is powered by any heat source – stove, flame, sun, etc. The generator is made of cheap materials and can easily power a 5W LED, providing light for those who need it most. More >   Coleman Hughes assembled jazz pieces that represent the evolution of 20th century jazz, the diversity of jazz as a global musical genre, and his experience as a jazz performer. The portfolio includes works in Bebop, Swing, Ballad, Waltz, and Bossa Nova styles by jazz masters, including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and J.J. Johnson. The goal was to celebrate jazz music, thereby reinforce its status as the embodiment of the American ideal of creativity and freedom of expression. More >

  Harrison Li
Dix Hills, NY
Category: Science
Project Title: “Determining Interannual and Spatial Trends in Convective Frequency over the Northeastern United States Based on Reanalysis of Convective Parameters”
  Aashna Mago
Newtown, PA
Category: Science
Project Title: “A Novel EZH2 Histone Methyltransferase Inhibitor: Potential Advancement in Epigenetic Cancer Therapy”
Harrison Li created statistical models that attempt to predict the occurrence of convective thunderstorms in different regions of the Northeastern United States based on certain atmospheric variables. This work represents an important step in understanding how the frequency of thunderstorms will change in the future as a consequence of climate change. More >   EZH2 is an enzyme that adds methyl groups to a site (H3K27) on a nuclear protein called histone H3. Overactivity of EZH2 is associated with cancer. Aashna Mago evaluated effects of SQ037, a new synthetic inhibitor, on EZH2 activity.  In contrast to previous molecules, SQ037 did not interfere with normal methylation and thus could potentially become a new type of cancer treatment. More >

  Natalie Ng
Cupertino, CA
Category: Science
Project Title: “MicroRNA Prognostic Signatures and Prediction Models for Distant Metastasis-Free Survival (DMFS) in Breast Cancer”
  Kailee Pedersen
Lincoln, NE
Category: Literature
Project Title: “The Transliteration of Flesh: Dismantling the Metanarrative”
Natalie Ng aimed to develop miRNA prognostic signatures as a diagnostic tool for breast cancer. She developed two prognostic models which predict metastasis in breast cancer, as well as identified two miRNAs that independently impact the ability of breast cancer cells to metastasize. More >   Kailee Pedersen challenged the metanarrative, a totalizing literary device that seeks to universalize human experience, which in turn legitimizes a hierarchy of sociocultural power. In presenting the narratives of the powerless, her portfolio explored the interdisciplinary interactions between critical theory, postmodernism, third wave feminism, and postcolonial theory. Through these theoretical frameworks, the author deconstructs the mechanics of literary domination, resolving the tension between an oppressive society and the individual self. More >

  Lilia Popova
Ann Arbor, MI
Category: Science
Project Title: “Elucidating Environmental and Genetic Mechanisms of Magnetically Altered Plant Growth”
  Thabit Pulak
Richardson, TX
Category: Science
Project Title: “Home-based Arsenic Bio-sane Water Filter and Rapid Arsenic Water Test using Nanotechnology”
Lilia Popova determined that plant response to weak static magnetic fields is dependent on environmental changes in water and nutrient cycling, and on genetic alterations in expression of essential genes in the root developmental network.  Her work provides evidence for plant magnetoreception and complex magnetoresponse mechanisms. More >   Thabit Pulak developed an affordable arsenic water test and filter. His arsenic water filter is over 5 times cheaper, and arsenic water test is over 1,000 times cheaper than existing filters and tests. The technology used in the filtration and testing is completely open-sourced, with no licensing costs. An affordable arsenic testing and filtration package will help bring an end to the decades-long battle against arsenic water poisoning in affected peoples across the world. More >

  David Steinberg
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Category: Outside the Box
Project Title: “The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project”
David Steinberg created a database that quantifies the evolution of the crossword puzzle; like society, crossword puzzles have undergone significant changes over the years.  Data can be statistically analyzed to identify broad societal trends and their implications will provide a wealth of new data to historians and sociologists. More >  

$10,000 Scholarship Recipients

  Joshua Brakensiek
Phoenix, AZ
Category: Mathematics
Project Title: “Bounds on the Size of Sound Monotone Switching Networks Accepting Permutation Sets of Directed Trees”
  Alec Brenner
McLean, VA
Category: Science
Project Title: “Viscoelastic Modeling of Tidal Heating in Terrestrial Exoplanets”
Joshua Brakensiek investigated an extension of the ST-connectivity problem in graph theory which asks whether two locations in a graph have an unbroken connection between them.   This work estimates the required memory usage when the graph has a predefined structure.  This research has potential applications in medicine, epidemiology, economics, and other fields which require complex data analysis. More >   Alec Brenner identified the potential effects of tidal heating on the geology and habitability of exoplanets, or planets in other solar systems. Tidal heating arises when the gravitational “tug”
from a celestial body – such as a star – generates friction and heat within another – such as an exoplanet. One notable finding was that most of the planets he studied were susceptible to substantial tidal heating, in some cases enough to melt their surfaces entirely.
More >

  Michael Janner
Redlands, CA
Category: Science
Project Title: “Magnetic Manipulation of Nanoscale Mirrors and Photonic Crystals”
  Ajay Krishnan
Portland, OR
Category: Engineering
Project Title: “Optimizing the Microbial Fuel Cell-Microbial Electrolysis Cell Coupled System for Sustainable Hydrogen Gas Production, Electricity Generation, and Improved Wastewater Treatment”
Michael Janner focused on the fabrication and manipulation of two different types of nanostructures which can manipulate light: nano-mirrors and photonic crystals. The photonic crystal’s response could be tuned across the entire visible spectrum and could act in one, two, or three dimensions depending on the complexity of the arrangement. The photonic effects could be quickly and easily controlled using magnetic fields and the resulting structures could be retained by a unique sol-gel process. More >   Ajay Krishnan created a device that can simultaneously produce electricity and hydrogen gas from wastewater using anaerobic bacteria.  He also discovered a novel method of improving and balancing between electricity generation and hydrogen gas production in the device.  Ajay’s research has wide applications ranging from use in wastewater treatment plants to the transportation industry. More >

  William Kuszmaul
Lexington, MA
Category: Mathematics
Project Title: “Equivalence Classes of Permutations Created Under Pattern-Replacement Relations”
  Emily Lipstein
Port Washington, NY
Category: Science
Project Title: “An Analysis of the Genetic Variation of Monachus monachus and its Implications for Conservation”
William Kauszmaul extended the systematic analysis of equivalence classes of permutations created under pattern replacement relations. He developed new proof techniques that may help future researchers and has applications in representation theory, spectroscopy, and particle physics. More >   The Mediterranean monk seal is critically endangered and genetically non-diverse due to a surge in seal mortalities over a short period of time. Emily Lipstein analyzed inherited portions of repeats (microsatellites) in DNA from 95 Grecian seals in order to quantify that population’s genetic variation. Her study provides scientific backing for conservation efforts to keep existing populations safe and promote the reemergence of the species in the Mediterranean Sea. More >

  Jiayi Peng
Chappaqua, NY
Category: Science
Project Title: “A Cellular Automaton Model for Critical Dynamics in Neuronal Networks”
  Vinay Sriram
Boyds, MD
Category: Technology
Project Title: “Quantitative Modeling of Processing Cost and Energy Consumption for Cryptographically Enhanced Secure Internet Routing Protocol”
To better understand the complexity of the brain, Jiayi Peng proposed a novel computer model that simulates the neural network while utilizing a simple feedback mechanism to show how neural networks can self-organize into a critical state.  Her work has implications in Alzheimer’s and epilepsy treatments. More >   Vinay Sriram’s research focused on proposing and quantifying the benefit of several optimization algorithms designed to reduce the computational needs of the secure protocols under consideration. His optimization methods can significantly enhance computational efficiency, speed up Internet routing table convergence, and conserve energy for routers. More >

  Vaibhav Vavilala
Indianapolis, IN
Category: Science
Project Title: “Neural Networks: Raising the Storage Capacity”
Vaibhav Vavilala studied neural networks – theoretical models of the brain – using computer simulations. Motivated by biological accuracy, he identified one attribute of biological neurons that neural networks traditionally do not describe and examined the effects of introducing the new property. His newly implemented model showed an increased memory capacity. His work may help advance applications in pattern recognition and modeling brain function. More >  

2013 Davidson Fellows Honorable Mentions

Mr. Arjun Balasingam
San Jose, CA
Enhancing the Energy Harvested from the Wind-Induced Oscillations of a Fin Using Novel Bluff Configurations

Miss Hope Weinstein
Boulder, CO
Zero Valent Iron Nanoparticle Embedded Polyethersulfone Membranes for Water Filtration and Remediation

Miss Natalie Happe
Minnetonka, MN
The Three Silences

Mr. Joshua Kimelman
Millburn, NJ

Mr. Jacob McNamara
Maplewood, NJ
A Bound on the Norm of Shortest Vectors in Lattices Arising from CM Number Fields

Miss Kathryn Amaral
Elk Creek, VA
Fiddling from the Heart on the Crooked Road

Miss Tissiana Vallecillo
Chandler, AZ
Transferring Energy and Joy Through Engaging Rhythms in Music to Listeners

Miss Lucy Ross
New Hill, NC
Morality and the State Beyond the Age of Belief

Miss Namrata Balasingam
San Jose, CA
On the Dynamics of Carbon Dioxide Plumes Sequestered in Saline Aquifers: A Physics-Based
Assessment of the Risk of Leakage

Mr. Jordan Cadle
Orleans, IN
Reprocessing Components of Milk from Foliar Application to Augment Protein Synthesis in Triticum aestivum
     __   Science (cont.) 
Miss Rachel Cadle
Orleans, IN
Determining the Production and Economic Impact of Utilizing Ground Coverings on Solanum lycopersicum

Mr. Benjamin Jin
Davis, CA
Developing LymphoLab: Modeling Ionic Fluxes in T-Lymphocytes

Miss Aneri Kinariwalla
Sayville, NY
A Study of the Role of the ROCK Kinase Pathway in Dental Pulp Stem Cell Differentiation and Mineralization

Mr. Nathan Kondamuri
Dyer, IN
The Improved Efficiency of a Solar Cell Based on Modified Photosynthetic Pigments

Mr. Joshua Meier
Teaneck, NJ
The Missing Genome: Mitochondrial DNA Deletions in Stem Cells

Miss Meghan Shea
West Chester, PA
Optimizing the Coagulating Property of Moringa oleifera Seeds: A Novel Approach to Water Purification Techniques in Impoverished Countries

Mr. Jesse Zhang
Boulder, CO
Lunar Tidal Winds in Earth's Atmosphere

Mr. Sunny Zheng
Plainview, NY
Cellulose Nanowhiskers: Enzymatic Hydrolysis and Incorporation In Epoxidized Polymers

Mr. Neel Mehta
Audubon, PA
Developing an Adaptive, Individualized Educational Technology Platform Utilizing Differential Learning and the Leitnerian Algorithm

Miss Bianca Ray Avalani
San Diego, CA
An Intelligent Driver Assist System Based on Multimodal Sensor Fusion

2013 Davidson Fellows Press Kit
Video - 2013 Davidson Fellows Reception (YouTube)
National News Release 
Davidson Fellows' Positive Contributions to Society

For more information, visit the Fellows Press Room.

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